PA Senator Weighs In On New Internet Betting and Horse Racing Bill

Pennsylvania Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R-9th Dist.)

Members of the Pennsylvania Senate have introduced Senate Bill No. 1188, which if enacted, would reform the regulatory oversight of the multi-billion dollar horse racing industry in the state. The new legislation would create a Bureau of Horse Racing tasked with duties ranging from drug testing enforcement to gift exchanges between breeders, owners, and trainers. Moreover, and perhaps of most interest to the many commentators following this story, the new legislation would effectively phase out the Racing Commissions that currently operates under the PA Department of Agriculture and would instead have the new bureau be run by the Gaming Control Board, which would also have the ability to grant online horse-race betting licenses to casinos across the state.

Among the sponsors of this bill is PA Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R-9th District). After receiving a Presidential Scholarship to Saint Joseph’s University and graduating with a B.A. in Economics in 1979, Pileggi went on to earn a J.D. from the Villanova School of Law in 1982. He chairs the Rules and Executive Nominations Committee and is a member of the Appropriations Committee, the Judiciary Committee, and the Legislative Reapportionment Commission. Prior to his election to the Senate, Senator Pileggi served as Mayor of the City of Chester.

This bill has a lot of components to it – what are the highlights of which Pennsylvania residents should be aware?

Our goals are to make Pennsylvania a national leader in ensuring the integrity of the horse racing industry, to continue the growth of an industry which provides more than 23,000 jobs in Pennsylvania and contributes significantly to open space preservation, and to better fit the regulation of horse racing within the context of how Pennsylvania regulates other forms of legal gambling, such as slots, table games, small games of chance and the state lottery.

These goals will be accomplished by:

  • Placing responsibility for oversight of the industry with the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board and dissolving the two separate commissions which are now responsible for those duties.
  • Strengthening Pennsylvania’s drug-testing program by authorizing testing at off-site training and boarding facilities, authorizing out-of-competition testing, and authorizing a testing fee which will include the cost of equipment, supplies, and facilities.
  • Prohibiting track personnel or relatives from receiving gifts from breeders, trainers and other persons.
  • Moving fines and fees, along with a significant percentage of both thoroughbred and standardbred breakage to the State Racing Fund to ensure the Gaming Control Board has the resources needed to enforce the act. Fees and fine amounts will be increased.
  • Establishing a surcharge on purses for marketing and promotion of Pennsylvania racing.
  • Providing a statutory framework for the current practice of Internet wagering on horse racing.

What was the impetus for the drafting of this proposed legislation?

The law governing horse racing in Pennsylvania has not been updated in almost 30 years. Since the General Assembly authorized slot and table gaming in Pennsylvania in 2004, the number of races, the number of horses racing, and the size of purses have all increased dramatically.

On top of that, since additional means of wagering on horse races, including via the Internet, have become available, the state has seen a decline in live betting – the primary revenue source for the State Racing Fund, which is used for regulatory oversight.

In other words, Pennsylvania has experienced a large expansion in the racing market since 2004 while simultaneously experiencing declining revenues to support the necessary regulatory oversight.

What effect can we expect this to have beyond Pennsylvania’s borders?

We want to position Pennsylvania as a national leader. We hope our law can be used as a model for other states who wish to grow the horse racing industry while ensuring its integrity with strong oversight.

For our readers who are not as familiar with the federal government’s role in these matters, what is the effect of existing federal legislation (such as the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act) on this proposed state legislation?

UIGEA makes it clear that “unlawful Internet gambling does not include placing, receiving, or otherwise transmitting a bet or wager where … the bet or wager does not violate any provision of … the Interstate Horseracing Act of 1978.”

This legislation was carefully drafted to comply with the Interstate Horseracing Act, UIGEA and other existing federal laws, so we don’t anticipate any effect going forward.

What obstacles do you anticipate from animal rights groups, anti-gambling activists, labor unions, and others, and how would you respond to their concerns?

Horses and jockeys coming down the final stretch to the finish line at Parx Casino and Racing in Bensalem, PA on September 14, 2013 (Colin Kerrigan / Philly.com)

We’re not aware of any active opposition. In terms of animal rights groups, we believe that strengthening Pennsylvania’s drug-testing program and improving overall oversight of the racing industry are directly related to the welfare and well-being of the horses, and we feel that’s a vital component of the bill. In terms of anti-gambling activists, the bill doesn’t propose to add new types of gambling; rather, it proposes to strengthen regulation of what already exists.

Some commentators have criticized the timing of the bill being brought to the floor, in light of a federal horse racing investigation. To what extent is this bill related to the federal investigation?

We’ve been working on this legislation for most of 2013. Alan Novak, who was appointed to the State Horse Racing Commission last year, began discussing the Commission’s financial issues with members of the General Assembly in March or April of this year. The federal investigation only came to light last week.

What other Pennsylvania legislation is pending that could also impact the horse racing and gaming industries?

There are more than a dozen bills introduced in those general topic areas in the current (2013-14) legislative session. The best way to find them is to use the General Assembly website’s co-sponsorship memo search tool and the legislation search tool.

Given the success of Pennsylvania casinos, have any state legislators and/or lobbyists considered a push for the repeal of PASPA and bringing sports gaming within the oversight of the PA Gaming Control Board?

We’re actively following the ongoing federal litigation involving New Jersey. But at this time we’re not aware of any similar push in Pennsylvania.

###

This entry was posted in Articles, Q & A's. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to PA Senator Weighs In On New Internet Betting and Horse Racing Bill

  1. Pingback: Senator Weighs In on New Internet Betting and Horse Racing Bill

  2. Pingback: Senator Weighs In on New Internet Betting and Horse Racing Bill | InfoCnxn.com

  3. ARNIE WEXLER says:

    YOU CAN GOOGLE ABOUT ME ARNIE WEXLER

    NEW JERSEY gambling addicts now being able to place bets without even getting out of their pajamas.

    ARNIE WEXLER IS squirming at the thought of gambling addicts now being able to place bets without even getting out of their pajamas. The temptations will be even harder for gambling addicts to resist now that internet gambling in New Jersey launches this month.Arnie Wexler, former head of New Jersey’s Council on Compulsive Gambling, told WCBS 880′s Monica Miller, “You don’t have to go no place. You wake up in the middle of the night, you have an urge to gamble, you’re in your birthday suit and you get on the Internet and you gamble
    “COMPULSIVE GAMBLING IS A IMPULSIVE ADDICTION AND THE ADDICTED GAMBLER CANT RESIST THE URGE TO GAMBLE AND CHASE LOSSES OR WINS HOW DO WE PROTECT THE UNDERAGE PERSON FROM GAMBLING ON THE INTERNET IN THE HEAT OF THE GAMBLING WHEN AN ADDICTED GAMBLER NEEDS TO KEEP GAMBLING I WOULD THINK IT WOULD BE A SMART THING FOR THE STATE TO HAVE A REG. THAT SAIS IF THE GAMBLER GOES THRU ALL THE $ IN THE ACCOUNT. THEY HAVE TO WAIT 24 HRS BEFORE THEY CAN ADD MORE $ (RELOAD) TO YOUR INTERNET GAMBLING ACCT
    All hope is not lost for addicts who want to overcome gambling addictions, however.New Jersey already allows people to add themselves to a self-exclusion list that prohibits them from entering all of Atlantic City’s 12 casinos, reported NJ.com. Now, New Jersey is extending this list to include online betting. According to the state Gaming Enforcement Division, people who are already on the exclusion list for the 12 casinos do not have to do anything to be included on the online list, but people can also sign up for an online gambling ban only.But Wexler, along with other experts, fears the list will not stop an addicted gambler”I know many people that were in recovery or put their name on the exclusion list that are in casinos gambling today,” he told Miller.People can ban themselves for one-year or five-year terms. If they sneak into a casino or find a way to place an online bet and win within that time frame, their winnings are subject to forfeiture, said NJ.com.People who believe they may have a gambling problem and wish to include themselves on the exclusion list can sign up online or in person at any of the offices of the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement located across the state. People can call and get more information about the addiction and potential solutions to overcome it.
    Or call 888 LAST BET ARNIE WEXLER CCGC
    ASWEXLER@AOLCOM
    http://WWW.ASWEXLER.COM
    561 2490922 CELL 954 5015270

    Arnie Wexler
    Arnie & Sheila Wexler Associates
    Lake Worth, FL
    561-249-0922 CELL 954 5015270

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>